The Simpsons “Whiskey Business” Review

the simpsons credits

Moe’s feeling suicidal, as usual, and after a botched attempt to hang himself, St. Anger round his neck, Homer performs CPR and saves his sorry ass. Moe now owes Homer a Wookiee Life Debt, and since Homer doesn’t want any uggos as his indentured servants, he, Marge, Carl, and Lenny take Moe on a trip to Capital City.

The trip is kind of awesome simply because we get a reuse of that lovely, lovely Tony Bennett song about a certain swingin’ town he knows, from Season 2’s “Dancin’ Homer.” While it’s only a small callback, it made me feel like some nutty, cuckoo, super-king. Everyone chips in to buy him a new suit, which makes him feel like an actual human being for once.

parfait.

Meanwhile, Bart has built a water slide in the backyard with Jimbo and Kearney. Grandpa comes out onto the roof to put a stop to this nonsense and tomfoolery, but predictably ends up taking a wild ride down Bart’s contraption and hurts his back. Out of guilt, Bart takes care of Grandpa for the next week or so. Grandpa is, for some reason, laid up on a cot down in the basement. I know no one actually likes Grandpa but that struck me as pretty odd. A few pill-races and turning-off-the-hot-waters later, Bart and Grandpa have begun to bond.

However, it turns out the old rascal is actually quite healthy indeed and he’s been playing it up because he likes the sympathy and attention he’s so rarely afforded. In hindsight, that’s actually pretty fucking sad. Bart is surprisingly understanding about all this, so I guess it wasn’t all for naught.

Lisa also has a story of her own this week, and it goes absolutely nowhere. Yay! Bart buys her tickets to a jam session at the Jazz Hole so she doesn’t interfere in his water slide scheme, and who should appear on stage but none other than Bleeding Gums Murphy. Uhm. Lisa is just as surprised as I am, what with Bleeding Gums being, y’know, dead since 1995 or thereabouts.

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Thankfully, the writers haven’t begun retconning established history that heavily. No, this Bleeding Gums is a hologram, much like the one used to make 2Pac take the stage once more. What’s more, the Bleeding Holo-Gums is being used to dispense advertisements during the set. Lisa quite understandably finds this rather crass and writes angry letters to his record label and threatens a boycott. Because boycotts always work. Isn’t that right, everyone who angrily vowed to boycott Left 4 Dead 2?

Another bunch of holograms shows up at the house to urge Lisa to stop sending letters because holograms allow new audiences to experience deceased performers. Lisa remains unconvinced, and… well that’s it really. There’s not much in the way of resolution for this pointless little tale. It just stops.

WHY? THIS WAS A REALLY GOOD IDEA! It’s just criminal how such a great premise was tucked away in the armpit of a mediocre episode where no one will see it. What the fudge, guys?

Moving on!

Moe’s story post-suit becomes mostly the same plot as another Season 2 episode, “Simpson and Delilah.” In both episodes a character improves their appearance; in Homer’s case, he grows his hair back, in Moe’s it’s the snazzy suit. Both characters find greater success and respect than ever before, and both are convinced it’s because of their new looks. The new look is taken away through unfortunate circumstances, and they become convinced they’re heading for failure without it. The family tells them the magic was in them all along, and lo! in true Simpsons style there’s no magic to be had, and no one will take them seriously with their normal appearances.

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 That’s exactly what happens, almost beat-for-beat in “Whiskey Business.” Moe cleans up the bar, impresses a couple of businessmen with his home-brewed bourbon, they invest a ton of money in taking Moe’s brew national, Moe’s suit gets ruined, and confidence or no, his stock plummets to nothing when he turns up to the exchange wearing his usual outfit.

SURPRISE!

“Whiskey Business” isn’t bad, exactly, but it’s weak. The A-story could very well be considered a remake of an earlier episode, and Lisa’s storyline went nowhere and did nothing beyond giving the audience another glimpse of Bleeding Gums. In fact, the whole Bleeding Holo-Gums thing could have been its own A-story in another episode. It could have been infused with a lot of heart if it had the time to breathe. Here, it’s just crammed in as a C-plot with no real ending.

Bart’s story was probably the best written. It, at the very least, had a conclusion. It’s a lesson Bart’s learned before, but his and Grandpa’s antics are good for a couple of snickers and it’s not such a transparent retread.

I know that after more than 500 of these things you’re going to have a certain degree of repetition, but the trick is to put a new spin on those old stories. But making an episode this similar makes the show feel like it’s becoming a snake eating its own tail.

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